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The intergenerational transmission of cognitive skills: an investigation of the causal impact of families on student outcomes

Author

Listed:
  • Hanushek, Eric A.
  • Jacobs, Babs

    (ROA / Education and transition to work, RS: GSBE other - not theme-related research)

  • Schwerdt, Guido
  • van der Velden, Rolf

    (ROA / Education and transition to work, RS: GSBE Theme Learning and Work)

  • Vermeulen, Stan

    (ROA / Education and transition to work, RS: GSBE Theme Learning and Work)

  • Wiederhold, Simon

Abstract

The extensive literature on intergenerational mobility highlights the importance of family linkages but fails to provide credible evidence about the underlying family factors that drive the pervasive correlations. We employ a unique combination of Dutch survey and registry data that links math and language skills across generations. We identify a causal connection between cognitive skills of parents and their children by exploiting within-family between-subject variation in these skills. The data also permit novel IV estimation that isolates variation in parental cognitive skills due to school and peer quality. The between-subject and IV estimates of the key intergenerational persistence parameter are strikingly similar and close at about 0.1. Finally, we show the strong influence of family skill transmission on children’s choices of STEM fields.

Suggested Citation

  • Hanushek, Eric A. & Jacobs, Babs & Schwerdt, Guido & van der Velden, Rolf & Vermeulen, Stan & Wiederhold, Simon, 2021. "The intergenerational transmission of cognitive skills: an investigation of the causal impact of families on student outcomes," ROA Research Memorandum 007, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:umaror:2021007
    DOI: 10.26481/umaror.2021007
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    1. Jacobs, Babs & van der Velden, Rolf, 2021. "Exploring the uncharted waters of educational mobility: The role of key skills," Research Memorandum 016, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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